Review of Shards by Bruce Baugh

October 2, 2009
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Horror Audiobook - Shards by Bruce BaughShards
By Bruce Baugh; Read by Wayne June
1 MP3-CD – 9.5 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Realms
ISBN: 9781565048652
Themes: / Horror / Vampires / Lasombra /

I don’t mind a good vampire story if it’s really an action movie that just happens to be about vampires (and as long as the protagonist isn’t a self-absorbed adolescent girl that can’t get over how “perfect” Edward is, but I digress). Otherwise, neh, I’m not so interested. Audio Realms tricked me into listening to Shards by Bruce Baugh (from Clan Lasombra Trilogy: Shards, Shadows, Sacrifices) by making the woman on the cover look like Kate Beckinsale.

Duped! It was the real deal. Vicious, evil vampires and no good guys. I loved it! I don’t usually like books where there is no one to cheer for. Don’t get me wrong, I like a hero with flaws, I just don’t like it when everyone including the protagonist is evil. But Bruce Baugh does a remarkable job with his characters. With each individual, motivations and predispositions were entirely understandable.

The protagonist, Lucita, is disillusioned about all things vampire. After 10 centuries a vampiress begins to ask herself, “Why? Why should I let the (undead) man hold me down? What’s the point of anything, really?” It’s kind of like Office Space for vampires. So of course she kills her “tyranical sire” and is ready to end herself too. The story starts at that point.

The Clan Lasombra is unhappy about Lucita’s behavior and (apparently ignoring the fact that she’s as hot as Kate Beckinsale) they send out a posse of ne’re-do-wells to hunt her down. The book is a fantastically creative vampire-hunts-vampire pursuit. Bruce Baugh created a plausible world where vampires could exist among us. I don’t know what I can say about the end without spoiling it, but it wasn’t predictable.

What stands out in this production is the narration. Since the antagonist was a female Audio Realms might have used a woman narrator, but Wayne June was just perfect for the story. I have a short list of narrators I just love to listen to, and none exceed Mr. June’s talent. His range of credible voices is astonishing. It has a deep, vibrant timbre that feels like smooth burgundy velvet. It made me think of an old muscle car when you start the engine and it idles deeper and stronger than most other cars. It was absolutely perfect for the characters in the story. Every time a new character was introduced and June would use a new voice I would think, “My goodness, how many unique voices can this guy do?!” They were all uniquely distinct and believable. It would be one thing if he had twenty generically evil vampires to do variations on. But he had to pull off the characters that Baugh had created, including an English vampire that I’m sure was the Fifth Beatle, ones with Spanish and Russian accents, nerdy college kid vampires, and and so forth. June sold me on every single character.

I’m not saying I believe in vampires, but I am saying that if Wayne June actually was a vampire it would explain a lot! A word of caution: the vampire’s language suggests that they’ve drank the blood of one too many drunk sailors, if you know what I mean.

Shard’s was a delightful, dark surprise. I’ve listened to it twice already and recommend it, even if (like me) you’re not normally a fan of dark vampire stories.

Posted by Michael Hinds

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